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How I managed my expectations to achieve greater happiness

Expectations are strong beliefs that something should be a certain way. We all have them, mostly about what we think our life, work, friends, partner, self should be. Being in tune with your expectations helps you learn more about yourself and is an important part of finding your authentic self and thriving. This month I share what happened when I realised how my expectations were shaping my experiences and what I did to overcome them so that I could achieve greater happiness. 

Woman on the beach smiling as she looks to the side

In my early twenties I was obsessed with creating a life based on the expectations I had about what life should be like. Naturally these expectations had been shaped by books, films, social media, and what society tells you things should be like. I had this idea of what a successful career looked like, what a good friend meant, how my partner should show me love, what travelling to different places and exploring new things should feel like etc. These expectations shaped how I saw my world, and without realising it I was putting massive pressure on myself and the world to deliver. I was setting myself up for failure.


Have you ever celebrated a special occasion like an anniversary or birthday and had hopes about what the day would be like, then when the day arrived it didn’t meet up to your expectations or was completely different from your expectations, and so you feel disappointed? I would feel like this all the time! Every special occasion, holiday, new place I visited, new experience I tried, I’d feel disappointed because it wasn’t what I expected. This is because my expectations were being shaped by unrealistic versions of reality. At the time, I didn’t realise this but the illusion of perfection sells. You do what you think is necessary to meet these expectations when in reality they are simply unrealistic.


As I went deeper into the journey of finding my authentic self, I learned more about how our brain works and discovered the power of our thoughts and how much control we have over our own happiness. You really can decide just how happy you wish to be. So, I decided to drop the expectations that were leaving me feeling disappointed and start to embrace life for what it was instead. And suddenly my life transformed. Every special occasion was special, every holiday was perfect, every new place and experience was exciting. My life became magical and I was truly grateful for every moment of it.


So, if you want to achieve greater happiness step away from setting expectations based on things that aren’t real. Stripping away these expectations allows you to be present and enjoy things exactly how they are, flaws and all. Your memories become more beautiful, your relationships more valued and your life more fulfilled. To do this, first learn how your expectations shape you and then make a plan to break-free from any that are stopping you from thriving. It could be as simple as choosing not to buy into them anymore, or re-framing them into something more helpful. However you decide to ditch them I hope you too see just how wonderful life can be when you embrace it, flaws and all.

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